For non-hardcore fans of Lady Gaga, the words on the tip of their tongues when mentioning the singer probably still remain “eccentric”, “unconventional” and “avant-garde.”
But now she’s back after a three-year hiatus with Joanne, her most emotionally honest studio album ever, and brings a more down-to-earth sound along with her. And perhaps the more-relatable Gaga just hopes listeners can immerse themselves in the music, rather than anticipate her trademark over-the-top fashion and outlandish video making a return with her.
Released on Oct 21, Joanne, while also being the singer’s middle name-- she’s known as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta off-state -- is named after her late aunt. “These are stories about my family,” the 30-year-old pop star said after an intimate gig at a bar in Nashville, US, on Oct 5. “My relationships with men, my failures.”
While her previous work has often blended high culture with technology, Joanne’s intention is to reach listener’s hearts simply through the power of music and lyrics. 2013’s Artpop, Gaga’s most stylized work to date, turned out to be her least successful release in terms of sales, which may be a reason behind Joanne’s change of pace.
“The album marks an evolved, more intimate performer more inclined to lay bare heartache, pain, resilience, and triumph than to mask it in electro-beats and pulsing,” noted Kevin Fallon, a senior entertainment reporter at The Daily Beast.
The fitting tender title track, for example, is a heartbreaking ditty about losing a loved one. In the song, Gaga shares simple yet touching lyrics with an unpolished rawness. Her vocal talents are on full display.
The new album also expands the performer’s horizons from dance and pop to rock and country. Discorock Perfect Illusion and country ballad Million Reasons are among the most recommended tracks by music critics. It’s no surprise that country features heavily in Joanne as this musical style naturally lends itself to storytelling.
It seems after the lukewarm success of Artpop, Gaga’s career has undergone a revitalization nevertheless. 2016 saw her chosen to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl, as well as belt her heart out at the Oscar’s. And not content with just singing, she tried her hand at television too, with her performance in the fifth season of FX’s American Horror Story (2011-) seeing her take home a Golden Globe Award for best actress in a limited series or TV movie earlier this year.
And while the star who once confessed that she lived for the applause has evolved to a more mature one, she still needs fear not. Joanne proves that there is plenty more applause to come her way.